The Molders' Union and the Allied Metal Trades
Journal of Political Economy
The building trades have always been thrown into close contact with one another. The very fact that carpenters, painters, plasterers, etc., work side by side on the same jobs has had much to do in fostering a feeling of fellowship and co-operation among union men of all sorts in the building industry. In the metal industry, the different trades have not been brought into the same intimate contact. Fifty or more years ago it was uncommon to find plants which employed more than two or three of
... two or three of these trades. Today, however, some establishments are so extensive that they find place for practically every metal trade. The different crafts remain somewhat isolated from each other, nevertheless, so that the sense of group solidarity has never fully developed among the men of the rank and file. Labor organizations within the building trades have been able to secure effective co-operation because there have been about a halfdozen unions of fairly equal effectiveness which have been able to give each other real assistance as well as to ask for it. In the metal trades, union leadership has depended largely upon the Molders, the one union which has possessed size, influence, and responsibility far beyond the accomplishments of allied trades. It is important, therefore, to see what attitude this union has taken toward sympathetic or joint action in the group of crafts to which it belongs. As early as I864 the Molders considered the feasibility of co-operating with the Machinists in forming "subordinate Trade Assemblies where separate trade union activities are impracticable."' Nothing was done, however, to carry out the plan. The incident is noteworthy only as showing the cordial relations which existed between the two crafts at that time. Again, in I865 there appeared to be considerable team work between the molders and the stove ,Stockton, "The Molders and the General Labor Movement," International Molders' Journal, March, I9I6, p. 220. i83 This content downloaded from 080.082.077.083 on January 20, 2018 14:59:12 PM All use subject to University of Chicago Press Terms and Conditions (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/t-and-i84 JOURNAL OF POLITICAL ECONOMY mounters of Troy. An agreement was made between the parties whereby, when one was on strike, the other was to supply information as to what occurred within the struck shop, to hinder "scabs" from going to work, and, in case the latter did obtain entry, to do everything possible to make them undesirable employees. Later on mounters and "pattern filers" were admitted to a meeting of the Molders' Union when a certain strike was being discussed. Apparently the mounters offered some active assistance in the difficulty, since the Molders shortly afterward voted to sustain their allies when the strike was settled and to walk out of any shop wherein a mounter was refused work on account of having helped in the contest indicated.' At various times down to I890 molders struck in sympathy with mounters, pattern makers, boiler makers, and machinists. The number of grievances supported was not large and none of the trades assisted asked for the universal application of a sympathetic strike policy. In several cases union molders hastily decided to pursue sympathetic action without waiting to obtain the international sanction that their rules required. Molders also took an interest in the formation of national unions among stove mounters and pattern makers. After I890 the weaker metal trades began to appeal with some frequency for the help of the Molders during labor difficulties. As soon as this movement became manifest the executive board of the Molders' Union insisted that the local unions proceed with caution before lending strike support to the appellants. The board refused to sanction sympathetic strikes at Pittsburgh in favor of the Machinists and at New York in behalf of the Housesmiths in I890 and I89I respectively.2 While certain molders contended that their union should observe the old motto of the Knights of Labor, "An injury to one is the concern of all," yet the board expressed strong disapproval of inconsiderate sympathetic strikes and "warned locals that before entering upon a strike of this sort they must con-I MS Minutes, Local Union No. 2, Troy, September I2 and 2I, I865; March i6 and I9, i866. 2 Proceedings, I895, p. 30. In I896, however, the Columbia Lodge, No. 26I, of the Machinists refused to handle "scab-made" castings.